The tonsils are two pieces of tissue located at the back of the throat. They are similar to lymph nodes and their job is to trap germs and prevent infection.
However, sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected, swollen, and inflamed. This is known as tonsillitis . These symptoms can also affect the adenoids , bundles of similar tissues in the upper part of the throat, or the lingual tonsils located on the sides of the tongue.
Sometimes the infection and inflammation recur repeatedly (recurrent) or persist for a long time (chronic).
This article will focus on chronic and recurrent tonsillitis. He will also talk about the types of treatment that healthcare providers give for the disease.
Types of tonsillitis
Tonsillitis can be caused by infections such as viruses ( cytomegalovirus , herpes simplex , Epstein-Barr virus ) or bacteria, such as those that cause strep throat . Tonsillitis is more common in children than adults. But this does not usually affect children under 2 years of age.
Tonsillitis is divided into three types. Each type depends on how often the tonsillitis occurs and how long it lasts:
- Acute tonsillitis includes cases where symptoms last from three days to two weeks.
- Recurrent tonsillitis occurs when a person has multiple episodes of tonsillitis over the course of a year.
- The symptoms of chronic tonsillitis persist for more than two weeks.
A peritonsillar abscess occurs when an infection of the tonsils spreads to the tissues of the pharynx behind the tonsils. Although some sources refer to this condition as a type of tonsillitis, it is probably just a complication of tonsillitis that has not received proper treatment.
Peritonsillar abscess is more common in adolescents and adults than in children.
Recurrent tonsillitis can be diagnosed if a person has tonsillitis several times a year. At first, infections may respond well to antibiotic treatment. But some people still get tonsil infections.
At least one study has shown that recurrent tonsillitis runs in the family. In other words, if you have family members who have recurrent tonsillitis, you are also more likely to get sick.
In children, recurrent tonsillitis is most commonly caused by group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes infections. It is also known as a sore throat. Other bacteria are more likely to cause recurrent tonsillitis in adults.
Reasons for recurring strep throat include:
- Bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics.
- Weakened immune system
- The possibility that you or someone in your family is a carrier of strep (which has no symptoms, but can spread bacteria)
Chronic tonsillitis is more common in teens and adults. People with chronic tonsillitis usually have:
If you have an infection with antibiotic resistant bacteria or a malfunctioning immune system, you can develop chronic tonsillitis. You may also have a higher risk of developing chronic tonsillitis if you have been exposed to radiation.
Ultimately, the decision to have your tonsils removed depends on many factors. These factors include:
If your tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. It is important to complete the full course of treatment as prescribed to reduce the chance that the bacteria will become resistant or return.
Because bacteria can be resistant to antibiotics, you may need to try a different drug if the first prescription doesn't work.
Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used, such as:
When you start treatment for chronic or recurrent tonsillitis, you should drink enough fluids. Once your sore throat has healed , it will be easier for you to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. If you have signs of dehydration , you should seek medical attention.
Regardless of the causes of chronic or recurrent tonsillitis, your healthcare provider may also recommend a tonsillectomy . This is more likely to happen if you have five to seven episodes of tonsillitis per year or if you have chronic tonsillitis that does not respond to treatment.
Choosing a tonsillectomy can significantly reduce the number of times you have a sore throat and need antibiotics for a year. It will also improve your quality of life, especially if your tonsillitis affects work or school attendance.
Chronic and recurrent tonsillitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the pharyngeal tonsils and the back of the throat. Sometimes the adenoids and lingual tonsils also become swollen.
Recurrent tonsillitis occurs when you get tonsillitis several times a year. Chronic tonsillitis occurs when you have a persistent sore throat, enlarged tonsils, bad breath, and enlarged lymph nodes. They can be treated with antibiotics, pain relievers, and sometimes surgery to remove the tonsils.